ABSTRACT

In geothermal exploration, magnetotelluric (MT) data and inversion models are commonly used to image shallow conductors typically associated with the presence of an electrically conductive clay cap that overlies the main reservoir. However, these inversion models suffer from nonuniqueness and uncertainty, and the inclusion of useful geologic information is still limited. We have developed a Bayesian inversion method that integrates the electrical resistivity distribution from MT surveys with borehole methylene blue (MeB) data, an indicator of conductive clay content. The MeB data were used to inform structural priors for the MT Bayesian inversion that focus on inferring with uncertainty the shallow conductor boundary in geothermal fields. By incorporating borehole information, our inversion reduced nonuniqueness and then explicitly represented the irreducible uncertainty as estimated depth intervals for the conductor boundary. We used the Markov chain Monte Carlo and a 1D three-layer resistivity model to accelerate the Bayesian inversion of the MT signal beneath each station. Then, inferred conductor boundary distributions were interpolated to construct pseudo-2D/3D models of the uncertain conductor geometry. We compare our approach against deterministic MT inversion software on synthetic and field examples, and our approach has good performance in estimating the depth to the bottom of the conductor, a valuable target in geothermal reservoir exploration.

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